Archive for September, 2008

The Captain Texts The Message

As mentioned in an Ach, Ja segment, I have finally purchased a new phone.  I’ve wanted a new phone for quite a while but I decided to stick with the old one primarily for monetary reasons.  I’m a big fan of free phones and I hate contract breakage fees.  The three cellular phones that I’ve previously owned all came free with a two year plan.  I decided back in April to wait until my Sprint contract expired in September so I could get a free phone and avoid any fees.

On Saturday Megs and I signed up with T Mobile and we both received new phones.  Samsung has done us both well in the past so I chose their flip-model, The Blast.

The features are pretty standard, but one thing really drew me to this model.  Well, two things actually.  I really love the black-and-red color scheme, but I would never pick a phone based solely on the colors.1

The main draw for me was the QWERTY keyboard.  In a bold reversal of a previous boycott, I have decided to start text messaging.  In the past I have openly complained about the unnecessary nature of texting.  Cell phones were made for talking, email for writing notes.  Case closed.

Recently I have seen the light and recognized that texting can be useful.  In case you were wondering, here’s what convinced me.

Top 5 reasons that I changed my mind about text messaging

1.  They now make phones with expanded keyboards.

My original complaint with texting was the extreme amount of keystrokes required to send a message.  Pushing the 7 button four times just to key an “S” seemed rather excessive.

While Blackberries always offered a keypad solution, I discovered that I hate Blackberries at my last job.2

Cell phone manufactures are finally producing affordable models with expanded keyboards.  Here’s the nifty one on my phone.

The QWERTY format is perfect for someone like me who only knows the computer version.  While I’m not a good texter yet, I think I will pick it up quickly.

2.  Some people actually respond faster to text messages.

I only recently realized this phenomenon.  Some of my friends will not answer a ringing phone but will text me back immediately.  For example, my sister is notorious for never answering her phone and never, ever checking her voicemail.  But the couple of times I texted her a question, I received an answer back within five minutes.  And I assume that when my two teenage brothers finally get phones they will only be reachable by text.  If this will make it easier to communicate with certian people in my life then so be it.

3.  This will eliminate the need to relay a phone number verbally.

While I usually prefer speaking to someone rather that receiving a text, the glaring exception is when giving or receiving a phone number.  Relaying a phone number over the phone is terrible.  I hate having to find a piece of paper and a pen and having someone repeat the number twice.  Even worse is trying to scroll through my phonebook to search for a number and making the other party listen silently.

The first time I asked for a phone number and the other person texted it to me instead, a little light went off in my head.  So much easier.

4.  No more screaming into my phone in a crowded or noisy place.

Bars, concerts, festivals, etc. all render a cell phone useless.  Not only do I hate having to yell into a cell phone in public, I hate it when other people next to me are forced to yell.  Plus, I hear alcohol and texting compliment each other quite well…

5.  Many conversations can be summed up in one sentence.

Even though I prefer talking on the phone, my conversations frequently involve one of two phrases:  “Are you on your way here?” or “I’m on my way there.”

Other times I only have one thought I am trying to express, so texting seems like the best way to communicate.  Especially when the thought is not really important.  To quote Chuck Klosterman, “Very often, I (apparently) want to tell people information that is so inane and trivial that it does not even justify making a phone call.” When faced with these situations I will now defer to the keypad.

So to all you texting fiends out there, send me a message.  If you text me then I’ll text you back.  And if anyone has any texting tips for a newbie, let me know.

Ciao,

The Captain

1  Unlike my wife.  I’m pretty sure she picked her model strictly because of the four interchangeable colored face-plates.

2.  Not only are they bulky and clunky, but I hate the idea of reading email when I’m not sitting at a computer.

The Captain Says Ach, Ja and Nicht Nicht: Part Drei

With wedding season officially over my life has slowed down considerably.  I finally have time to appreciate the little things that make life more enjoyable.  That, and a chance to bemoan everything else.  Seems like a perfect opportunity for another installment of Ach, Ja and Nicht Nicht !

The onset of Autumn – Ach, Ja

Normally I’m not very excited about the changing of the seasons.  This year is different; I am actually pretty stoked for Fall.  This is primarily due to the fact that I haven’t experienced a traditional Autumn in three years.

While Florida weather is preferable to the Midwest’s for most of the year, Fall is the exception.  In St. Louis, the weather has been almost perfect for the last week.  Right now it’s still balls-hot in Florida and it will continue to be until November.  Mellow weather in September is somewhat of a shock to my system.

I’m also enthused to watch the changing of the colors.  In Florida the colors change from green to brown in the blink of an eye; Reds, yellows and oranges are foreign to me.  Even the idea of four seasons is pretty novel at this point.  I’m sure in a couple of years I’ll be tired of the seasons again and ready for Florida’s Endless Summer.  Bur for now I’m planning on falling in love with Fall all over again.

Kill The Messenger – Ach, Ja

Chris Rock is back , and just in time!  The best stand-up still touring and one of my personal faves is set to air a new special next weekend, just in time for the election.  Chris Rock is undeniably funny, but he is so much more than just a jokester.  His insight into race relation, sexual relations, and political relations are unmatched in today’s world.  He says things that even the Daily Show couldn’t get away with saying.  His comedy specials are an event, and given all the nonsense that has happened recently, this next one could be his best.

St. Louis City Traffic Division – Nicht Nicht

Parking downtown sucks.  I’ve managed to accumulate several unpaid parking tickets during my current residency downtown.  While I knew that this would eventually bite me in the ass, I was not prepared for the gigantic bite in store.

My car was parked at an expired meter overnite last week.  By the time I went down to move it at 10 am, the City of St. Louis had managed to tow it.  When I called the traffic division to find out what had happened, they informed me that my car had been towed AND booted.  The tow1 cost me $150, and the boot removal cost $50.  Talk about overkill.  Why would a car need to be towed and booted?  That seems a bit excessive.

I had to spend over $500 to get my car back.  When I finally sat in the driver’s seat to leave the lot, I noticed another ticket on the windshield.  What a racket!

Dee JPees Big Adventure – Ach, Ja

I’ve been a huge fan of mash-ups for a number of years, and it started with D.J P .  I was a regular when he spun at the Burgundy Room on $5 bottomless-cup Mondays back in my college days.  Since then he has managed to put out several incredible mash-up discs that earned him a job as the house DJ at a Casino in Las Vegas .

He’s been promising to put out a double-disc Best of album for over a year now, and he finally released it this week!  My copy is in the mail and will be in permanent rotation in my car for the next several months.  I encourage everyone reading this to pick up a copy .

St. Louis Sports Team Office Management – Nicht Nicht

Both of St. Louie’s pro-sports teams have been terrible this month.  The Rams started their season with a big thud, and the Cardinals look to finish their season the same way.  While it’s hard to judge which is more upsetting, it’s relatively easy to see who deserves the majority of the blame.

The Rams’ main problem is their reprehensible coaching staff.  Scott Linehan and company are simply embarrassing.  The Rams have a decent set of players and a coaching staff that has no idea what to do with them; real Busch League management.  How many more blowouts will it take before the owners fire the coaching staff.

The Cardinals’ late season collapse can also be attributed to poor management.  While the coaching staff has made some poor decisions lately, they haven’t had a lot to work with this year.  This seems to be more of a front office problem.  At the trade deadline, the Cardinals’ new GM looked at his banged-up squad and his dreadful bullpen and decided not to do anything about it.  Any move, even a little one, would have brought some energy to the team.  Predictably, the Cards ran out of juice and lost their way out of the wild-card race.  I expected more from a team that seemed so exciting at beginning of the season.  Hopefully the Cardinals have a more productive off-season.

Dexter Season 3 – Ach, Ja

Next weekend also sees the premier of the new season of Dexter.  I started as a casual fan of Dexter, but I have grown into a committed one.  When the show started, I had a tough time buying the serial-killer-trained-by-his-cop-father premise.  Over time the show as done an excellent job making the premise seem realistic, while making the characters more complex and compelling in the process.  And while Season 2 ended a little too neatly, it set this season up for a fresh start.  There is a real potential for greatness here and I’m hoping Dexter can live up to it.

Vampire Weekend – Ach, Ja

In a year full of good music Vampire Weekend is easily my favorite band this year.  Their album is phenomenal; it’s one of few recently that is solid from start to finish.  Last month they released an extremely clever video for my favorite song on the album, Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa.

I’ve been anticipating Vampire Weekend’s show at the Pageant for months.  The band made their first trip to St. Louis last week and put on one hell of a show.  I wasn’t sure how some of the songs would translate live, but everything sounded awesome.  The drummer is tight, and he gives the band a very succinct live sound. With only one album under their belt, the boys played every song they knew.  The show only lasted an hour but that was to be expected.

Besides the music I had a blast people watching; it was hipster d-bag central.  The place was packed with the early-twenties-too-cool-for-school crowd trying really hard to look cool without trying.  Endlessly amusing, especially the guy wearing this shirt.

Entourage – Nicht Nicht

I’ve been a casual fan of this show since the beginning, but it’s gotten harder to watch over the years.  The new season started this month on a bad note, and seems committed to getting worse.  I used to find the smug and self-congratulatory nature of the show humorous, now it just seems shallow.  The actors and the writers all seem to think they are as famous as the characters the show portrays.

Entourage has often been referred to as “Sex And The City for Men.”  I used to disagree with that notion, but now it seems that the idealized world Entourage is nothing more than male escapism.  Sad.

My Beat-To-Hell Cell Phone – Ach, Ja

I’ve been using the same cell phone for the last 4 ½ years and the poor thing is ready to die.  Most of the buttons are broke or missing and it’s covered in dents and scratches.  I’d say it’s on its last leg, but that leg probably left when the antenna broke off.  I’m finally getting a new phone this weekend, so I want to give the proper send-off to my phone.  I’ve been with my phone longer than I’ve been with Megan, which is like an eternity in electronic years.

Flooding In North County – Nicht Nicht

The rains from Hurricane Ike wreaked havoc on my old neighborhood.  There was so much rain last weekend that the tiny creek behind the shopping centers near my mom’s old house severely overflow

I love this area of North County, my old stomping grounds.  This is like two blocks from where my best friend DJ lives.  The Dierbergs in the picture is one of my wife’s favorite places on the planet.  I hope that Florissant has a speedy recovery.

Mad Men – Ach, Ja

Holy smokes what an amazing show! Megs and I made it through season one on DVD last week, and are currently watching season two from the DVR.  I can’t say enough good things about Mad Men, and plenty of others have tried.  The best quote I saw was “A Moody Masterpiece.”

While the period references, the sets and the plotlines are great, I think my favorite part of the show is the ensemble cast.  As Lost and The Sopranos has shown, multiple characters in such a densely layered world can provide years of good drama.  This show looks to be compelling for years to come.

Whomever Busted The Lock On My Car Door – Nicht Nicht

The next morning after I got my car back from the tow-lot I discovered that someone broke into my car the previous nite.  It looks like a screwdriver was used to break the driver’s side lock.  Not only was this infuriating, it was just plain ludicrous.  While it’s not out of the ordinary for a car parked on the street downtown to be broken into, mine should be different.  My car has a giant dent in the hood and a club on the steering wheel, which should make it immune to left.

I also make sure keep absolutely nothing inside of my car, which should prevent would-be thieves from breaking in to steal something.  Instead some asshole breaks the lock, empties out my glovebox and finds nothing, goes through the CDs in my visor and decides he doesn’t want a copy of Modern Rock, and leaves.  Someone broke into my car and stole nothing!  Dammit!2

I’d say I had a rough week, but I guess it was my car that really took the brunt of the pain.

Ciao,

The Captain

1  While $125 for a tow definitely sucks, the $25 lot fee was just plain ridiculous.  It takes a special kind of greed to charge $25 a day for having a car parked in a junkyard.

2  Well, at least said asshole didn’t get anything out of this either.  Still, how dumb do you have to be to look into a car with a club and nothing else inside and still decide to break in?

The Captains Wedding Season Part Three

After a memorable five weeks, my wedding season came to an end this past weekend.  The home-stretch was chocked full of Italians, unforeseen drama and fine liquors.  In other words, my good friend Timmy finally tied the knot.

Tim and I have been friends for quite a while now, stretching way back to my early days as the Captain.  Here’s Tim and his best man Jeff enjoying some spirits on a boat back in the day.

Tim married his lovely girlfriend Julia, which works out great for Meg and I.  Not only are they a fun couple to hang out with, they also live just down the street from us and both have jobs that involve loads of free booze.  Score!

Timmy’s wedding actually required quite a bit of personal involvement on my end.  I helped out with the DJing duties yet again, and also was a part of the wedding party.  Renting a tux is a drag, but look how good Jeff, Tim and I clean up!

While Tim’s wedding certainly required a large time investment from me, it wound up being the most hassle-free wedding of the season.  This was primarily due to the small size.  The first two weddings I attended both had over 200+ guests.  Tim and Julia had around 50, which made for a much more relaxed atmosphere.

While there was lots of behind the scenes drama, none of it spilled over into the wedding.  The ceremony was intimate and full of smiles, and the sun managed to push back the rain.  Everyone looked great, especially Julia.

The reception at Maggiano’s was just as intimate and even more relaxing.  We had plenty of time to enjoy the top shelf booze, generous portions of Italian food, and old friends I hadn’t seen in years.  Alex the Raging Liberal was on hand to entertain us with his bleeding heart.  The illustrious Boz even made an appearance, and I finally got to meet his wonderful wife. 1

Despite having problems with the sound system and almost destroying the wedding cake accidentally, everything seemed to fall into place by the end of the nite.  Meg and I were glad to support another happy couple and another magnificent wedding.

And with that, my wedding season has officially come to an end.  While the 2008 season was not nearly as tiring as 2007, it was just as much fun.

Congratulations to Dave & Kelly, Adam & Marissa, and Tim & Julia.  Thanks for the memories.

And to all you single fellas out there, remember your time is coming soon.

Ciao,

The Captain

1.  Boz went from the quintessential bachelor to Mr. Family Man a few years back, and I haven’t seen much of him since.  Boz and his little lady just had a baby, so they’ve been out of commission.  They definitely had the look of two people who hadn’t been out on a Saturday nite in quite a while.

The Captain Adds New Whistles And Bells

Top 5 New Additions To Captains Quarters

1.  Countdown to Meg’s Thirtieth

Now that the counter for my Thirtieth has expired I have decided to replace it with a Thirtieth counter for Megan1.  This may appear a little harsh but I assure you she has it coming.  She reminded me quite frequently over the past year and a half that I was due to turn Thirty soon, so this is just her come-uppins.

2.  New Flickr Photo Album

On Monday I uploaded about six months worth of pictures to my Flickr site and I wanted to find a way to highlight my effort.  I found a nifty bit of code that produces the cool mosaics of pictures, so I upgraded the icon.  The new pictures on my Flickr page include my b-day surprise, Marissa’s wedding, fourth of July, Dave’s wedding and various other events.  Check it out!

3.  The St. Louis Forecast

Before I head to work in the morning I usually check this great weather website, Weather Underground, for the forecast.  Last week I noticed the website has code available for real-time weather updates and I decided I should add it to Captains Quarters.  Now all of my out-of-town peeps will know how unbearably hot/cold it is here in St. Louis.

4.  RSS feeds

A friend asked me a couple of months ago to add this feature and I promptly forgot.  Now seems like a good time to remember.  For those of you unfamiliar, RSS feeds are a way to get updates when I post new entries.  You should check them out if you haven’t already, they are quite handy.

5.  Visitor Location Maps

One of the cool things about Blog-City is that the site actually tracks the country of origin for all visitors to Captains Quarters.  While most visitors live in the US, I do get quite a bit of traffic from Canada, Korea, and Germany.2 This nifty little bit of code from ClustrMaps will actually track hits to my site and place a dot on the map to correspond.  Should be interesting to see where the dots land.

Ciao,

The Captain

1.  And Kim.

2.  Once again proving my point that Germans love Captain Raoul.

The Captain Receives One Hell Of A Surprise

“Barring any unforeseen surprises, my birthday should be a low-key affair.” – Captain Raoul, September 3, 2008.

That wife of mine, she’s a crafty one.  I was pretty convinced that she was not planning a party for my Thirtieth.   I figured that if there was a secret party, she would throw it Labor Day weekend.  Instead, we had a family party over brunch on Saturday and spent the rest of the weekend chilling out with the dog.  The evening of my birthday, we enjoyed a nice, quiet dinner at Lucas Park Grill down the street.

She gave me my birthday gifts, family and friends called and wished me well, and we had some birthday cake.  Seemed like a done deal.  Apparently I am more trusting than I realized.

On Saturday, I was sitting around the loft and realized that I didn’t really have anything planned for the evening.  This being the first time in about a month I had a weekend nite free, I called a couple of buddies to set up a poker game.  Strangely, no one else had any plans either….

Bill, DJ and Jamie came downtown and we headed up Washington to grab a bite at the Dubliner before breaking out the cards.  On the way there, Bill dragged me into Flamingo Bowl much to my chagrin.  Two steps in the door and I was completely dumbfounded.  There sat a large group of my friends with big-ass grins waiting to yell “surprise.”

And what a surprise it was; I had no idea.  Not only did my wife do a fantastic job organizing my hard-to-gather group, but my friends actually managed to keep a secret for once.  I was flabbergasted for approximately 60 seconds, and then I was immediately overjoyed.

Hey, a party for me, with most of my close friends, at a bowling alley within walking distance from my place!  I need a drink!  Luckily, there were plenty of drinks to go around.

More than anything, I was excited that so many people turned out to celebrate my 30th.  The guys made it

As did the girls

The Springfield crew

My sister’s crew

And the evening even featured a rare Bigfoot-like appearance by Kingston.1

I really felt the love from my friends, and it was much appreciated.  And along with good people came some good times.  Flamingo Bowl is simply amazing; good food, good drinks, great atmosphere, and bowling!  Here’s my lovely wife single-handedly bringing down our teams’ score.

She’s more of a bumper-bowler.  Despite her performance, I managed to bowl the game of my life.  I managed to bowl a 135, which isn’t particularly high but was still better than the other nine bowlers!

I even bowled a frame with DJ’s awesome-looking-yet-barely-functional Bud Ball.

After a full ten frames and about as many cocktails, we had a few people over to the loft for an after party.  It was an amazing nite, definitely the highlight of my thirties thus far.

Thanks to all of my friends for coming out to help me celebrate; I am lucky to have all of you.  And big-ups to my tremendous wife for planning such a marvelous evening.  The only thing more surprising than the party is how I managed to land such a righteous lady.

I guess Thirty ain’t so bad after all.

Ciao,

The Captain

1.  Seeing Kingston is like a seeing Sasquatch both in its rarity and for its extreme dirtiness/hairiness.

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